SSS: a micro story and poem

I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog where she hosts Six Sentence Stories, and everyone is invited to write a story or poem constructed of six sentences based on a cue word.

This week’s cue word is Clip. Last week’s was Tender. I missed last week’s due to work, so this is my double bill feature to catch up 😊


 

The Haunting of the Clipper

She was going at a fair clip across the lurching tapestry of the Atlantic Ocean, England to America, blue agate skies and lemony sun, seabirds orbiting the old ship as it sailed westward.

Mary leaned on the rails and gazed at the vast and moving plain, her thoughts turning to the dreams of joining her husband Richard at his plantation; did she love him? Yes, otherwise she wouldn’t be making this voyage, but… the but was as stark as the shrieking of a gull as it made a pass over the deck, a black and white phantom of the seas, all hungry and brutal and vital, and Mary gave a shiver.

And she saw then on the horizon gathering clouds, blooming with the menace of a fantastic storm she might later find herself sailing into; a storm as inescapable as the life she was about to commit herself to at Richard’s plantation.

That night, in her cabin, it wasn’t storms which troubled Mary – but terrible nightmares riddled with pleas for vengeance and retribution; and the moaning and groaning she heard was not the protesting timbers of the clipper, but voices weeping with pain; and the dreadful rapping at her porthole was no striking pellets of rain nor hail, but the knuckles of fists demanding her attention; and the howls which pervaded every inch of the ship were no lamentations of the wind – but people calling out to her “Avenge us” and “Free our souls”.

The next morning Mary told her dreams to the captain, who smiled knowingly beneath a seasoned beard, and through a puff of smoke from his billowing pipe he said: “Ghosts, lass, nought but the ghosts of slaves tossed overboard and now un-resting below, aye, did ye not know this route was once sailed by slavers?”

And upon that following night, while Mary slept and once more bore witness to the moans and the howls and the voices demanding her help, she found she was no longer afraid but steeled with resolve to unshackle those ghosts, and a vow made that as soon as she reached the promised land she would burn her husband’s plantation down to the ground.

***


Tender

Tender is the man who succumbs to the virus, tender becomes his limbs and lungs, palest skin, and fragile eyes as weak as glass panes in cheap picture frames.

Tender is the meat he is helped to eat, hashed and blended, almost a liquid, when not one week ago he was scramming Sunday dinner down his throat, unaided, unhindered, unblemished by the invisible fingers of a virus tapping at his shoulder.

Tender is the bed he slept upon here, de-blanketed and de-sheeted, the mattress disinfected, his worldly belongings put into quarantine before being sent to relatives tender with tears.

Tender, so tender, the placement of flowers at a socially-distanced funeral.

Tender are the sentiments we are left with to nurse: the anxieties, bad dreams, stress and grief machined into relentless missiles lined up at the open hatch of a roaring bomber in a midnight sky –

Yet hearts, made of tough steel to meet the enemy at whichever gate it chooses, strong and vital, beating hard; O virus, ye shall know our wrath in the most tender moments you can reduce us to, and by our acts and courage we shall persist.

***


Micro story and poem by Ford.

Image: Suzy la Revoltée. Par Tani et Souriau. Lisette N° 24, 1946.

October horror shorts: The Boutique for Lost Souls


I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog, where she hosts Six Sentence Stories, and everyone is invited to write a story, poem or article constructed of six sentences based on a cue word given.

This week’s cue word is Boutique


 

Editor’s note: I’m placing my note this week up front instead of at the end. This is so I can thank in advance our wonderful word hostess Denise for allowing me the honour of choosing this week’s cue word (thank you so much, D, joy 😁). The word I have chosen is boutique – I love how sweetly it rolls off the tongue. A French word – but one used in the English language.

My entry for boutique goes down a somewhat typical route for me: a dark and ghostly tale, but one I think is ever so tender and loving. The Boutique for Lost Souls is a tale about ghosts and running and dancing and falling in love. It’s origins are in a story I was once working on about a secret shop in which the visiting customers had to shrink to the size of a mouse before entering. It was loosely inspired by tales such as Tom Thumb, Thumbelina, and The Borrowers. The Boutique for Lost Souls has ended up a much different beast, though it still explores the theme of being or becoming small. And so here I present to you two versions of it: the long version, and the short version.

Enjoy.

Ford 🙂


The Boutique for Lost Souls (long version)

I once was a dancer who learned how to run, to run from a monster who was after my blood, and each time I turned he was one pace closer, and I felt his vile breath like fingers on my back, as I ran and ran until I thought I might collapse, on and on, and on, the monster always there, bigger than I, taller, wicked and agile, with spinning discs of barbarous eyes, with cutlas teeth and grotesque smile, a tongue versed in spells and ancient rhymes – it was all I could do but run for my life, like a dog with its tail set alight.

And at last, near-destroyed, my lungs seething with fire, I came to a town at the end of the world, and in it a boutique with windows aglow – a hideout I prayed might save my soul; a shelter, a safe house, a temple for the pursued – and so I pushed open the door and asked for refuge.

And inside was a woman who smoked a cigar, and her eyes brimmed with wisdom, perception and guile, and she said to me: “You’ll be safe here in my little boutique, if you hide somewhere good and don’t make a peep!”

And I saw many objects of antiquity and art: instruments and barometers, timepieces and charts; optical lenses for near and far; microscopes for bugs, telescopes for stars; violins and cellos, pianos and harps; paintings and drawings, books and cards; and a music box which when opened by the woman, held a tiny ballerina spinning to Swan Lake, and I – a dancer alike – beheld this twirling figure with my lovestruck eyes, as the woman urged me on: “Hurry up and join her, there isn’t much time!”

And I duly obliged, and scampered inside, not questioning how I shrank to such a small size, as the woman closed the lid and stepped aside, and puffed on her cigar as the beast stormed inside her little boutique at the end of the world, and how he hollered and bellowed and boomed and yelled: “Where is that fool dancer, tell me, old crone, or I’ll break your boutique into thousands of pieces, and then one by one your snappity-snap bones!”

And the woman pointed a finger to a door which said: LAST EXIT FOR FOOLS, and there the beast fled into a boundless chase of the phantom of a dancer which I once was – and may he chase my steadfast ghost as the fool master of the hunt he will always be – while I, safe forevermore in the music box, with my ballerina soulmate dancing at my side, ballerina, ballerina, O angels did you see her, how she mended my heart when it was broken in two, and a pirouette later, said: “My beautiful dancer, I so love you.”

***


The Boutique for Lost Souls (short version)

“Take heart if you are running from an ancient curse

For here is a love story set in verse

About monsters and ghosts and a charming boutique

And how love and dancing may set you free

Do not despair you will find that place

Of sanctuary and a loving soulmate.”

***


October horror shorts: Diary of a Weekend Vampire


I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog, where she hosts Six Sentence Stories, and everyone is invited to write a story, article or poem constructed of six sentences based on a cue word given.

This week’s cue word is Field


 

warning: contains vampire lust

Diary of a Weekend Vampire

I

Suzy trimmed my hair on Monday after work when it was dark
(I’ve promised her a book of poems and picnic in the park)
She cut her index finger on the edge of her scissors
And I gave a little snigger as I watched her in the mirror
Run into the kitchen searching for Elastoplast
And it got me set to thinking that nothing ever lasts
And roses that are red to her to me always turn black.

II

On Tuesday I was stuck in traffic and very late for work
Some scoundrel driver cut me up and made me go berserk
I fantasised about his neck and drinking road rage blood
Then at the perfect moment as he was just about to turn
I’d slash an artery here or there and leave him for the worms
Rotting in a field in the English countryside
Good for him I wasn’t on duty and only work part-time.

III

On Wednesday Alicia from accounts did my Tarot cards
She said she learnt them from a man who was a Russian Tsar
I played her up and drew for fun ol’ Death and The Hanged Man
And she rattled on ‘bout new beginnings and being the best you can
How my chakras needed aligning and my aura looked like mud
And all the while I was thinking I’d like to suck her blood
But Wednesday’s only half the week and I’m meant to be good.

IV

Thursday after work I volunteered at the skate park
The kids there think I’m very cool and call me Mrs Sharp
Or Northern Vamp in Aviators, Vans and skinny jeans
With links to Bauhaus, SoM and Siouxsie And the Banshees,
And I tell ’em go listen to the Cure’s Carnage Visors
While flashing them my fingernails and sexy incisors
Yeah, I know it’s cool to be a kid – as I once was before being bit.

V

Thank Fuck It’s Friday for I was horny as hell
Was dress-down-day at work and Alicia sure looked swell:
Alicia in black stockings and an off-the-shoulder number
And thoughts of gorging on her neck stirred me from my slumber
And after knocking off at four I met her in the pub
Should never mix my Gin and Tonic with my colleagues’ blood
Coz around midnight later on, Alicia was supped up.

VI

Saturday I woke up late with an epic hangover
Virgin blood and toasted bread, a nice refreshing shower
Then at the discotheque that night I spied my vamps-to-be
Gave invitations to my castle overlooking the sea:
A beauty queen, a nurse from Leeds, a cosplay Wolverine
Sacred rites, blood and lust all night… yes Saturday is the best!
Then precious sleep in ancient caskets, for Sunday is our day of rest.

***

***

***


***


Dedicated to weekend vampires the world over.

Poem and art card by Ford.


Editor’s note: disclosure – normally my Six Sentence Stories are written on demand subject to inspiration found from the weekly cue word. However, my poem Diary of a Weekend Vampire has been sitting in the Six Sentence Story reception area for more than a month, its impatient author waiting for our wonderful word mistress D to unleash a cue word applicable to my, erm, vampire urges, and all fine and dandy and in time for Halloween 😁 🎃

But time passed, and the cue words wouldn’t marry the spirit of my vampiric tale, and before I knew it we were almost halfway through October. Could I risk waiting for the following week’s cue word? Or worse, risk it with the last date in October? Not on your holy water! It had to be this week’s Six Sentence Story, or my protagonist lady vamp Mrs Sharp might be consigned to the perils of next October.

So, this Sunday, came the announcement of the cue word… and it was… wait for it, hah, oh, wait, what… Field. Umm?!? How do I fit part-time vampire lust into a field? Or a field into part-time vampire lust? It seemed our fearless word mistress D had delivered to your humble editor a deadly word-blow – akin to a stake through the heart at midnight while the coffin was still warm.

What could I do? Who could I turn to? Nothing at my Writing & Bakery School classes (micro stories while making tarts) had prepared me for this; nor were there any chapters devoted to my dilemma in the 1001 Ways To Get Your Sorry Ass Out Of Writing Trouble which Wooof bought me last Christmas; and my clandestine seances with the spirits of Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker (The Three Dead Literary Spooks and a Rubbish Living Writer Society) garnered no advice nor wisdom other than: “Don’t give up the day job, mate, and can you get us any laudanum?”.

Only one thing for it… the word field simply had to fit! Somewhere, anywhere, even if it didn’t make sense! Well, luckily it did, in a way. And you know, on reflection, the word field ended up stamping itself with some authority inside the swaggering sentence: “Rotting in a field in the English countryside”. I really like that line. It also sums up Brexit quite nicely. Fuck you, Brexit.

I’m glad now that it was field as the cue word; and this is the beauty of Six Sentence Stories – you have to work with what is given, and this is not a constraint really but a liberation. And I love it. And I love our word chooser D for taking time each week to challenge us all ♥. If you enjoy writing, then come on over to Six Sentence Stories and try your craft. We’re a lovely bunch here, and we don’t bite (apart from the part-time vampires among us 😉)


Αεί Έλλην Μαχόμενος ( SPIRA – FORD P WAIGHT collaboration )

Friends, I am so happy to present via the blog of my good friend and collaboration partner – Spira – the fruits of our artistic endeavour to mark the 2500th anniversary of the battles for freedom at Thermopylae and Salamis which took place in 480 BC. Please add your thoughts and feelings over at Spira’s place, and join us in this celebration of one of the greatest gifts we can enjoy – freedom.

inSPIRAtion

This year marks the 2500 years anniversary from the battles of Thermopylae (August ) & Salamis (late September) in 480 BC during the Hellenic – Persian wars.

I am truly excited to honor the occasion with a collaboration with my good friend
                                                         Ford P.  Waight.

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The Heavy Metal Kettle Special

Heavy Metal. Starlog Japan. 1981.


I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog, where she hosts Six Sentence Stories, and everyone is invited to write a story or poem or article constructed of six sentences based on a cue word given.

This week’s cue word is Kettle


There once was a lady who lived in a kettle

Who loved to listen to Heavy Metal:

Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and AC/DC

And many more groups besides these three.

Yet she also loved other styles of music:

Gothic, Post-Punk, New Wave, New Romantic,

Classical, K-Pop, Hip-Hop and Be-Bop,

Ragamuffin, Reggae, and Lovers Rock.

There was Afrobeat, Zouk, Funk and Jazz,

Country and Western, Honkytonk and Bluegrass,

Shoegaze, Electro, Jungle and Grime,

R&B, Disco, Folk and Ragtime.

Then Punk, Ska and Rock, and Congolese Rumba,

Chicago Blues, Gospel Blues, Swamp and Delta.

And all this she loved, did that lady in the kettle,

Yet none so much as her dear Heavy Metal.

Her dear Heavy Metal, her dear Heavy Metal –

None was so loved as her dear Heavy Metal.



Thank you for rocking the metal kettle with us 🙂 \m/

Six Sentence Stories: The hen that came down a beanstalk

Jack and the Beanstalk. Illustration by Eric Winter, 1965, Ladybird Books.

I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog, where she hosts Six Sentence Stories, and everyone is invited to write a story or poem constructed of six sentences based on a cue word given.

This week’s cue word is Eternal.

 

 

The hen that came down a beanstalk

Jack is dead, oh, eternal be his memory –

Yet I have no time for his eulogy, as I clamber down this bristling stalk,

Over leaves as long as surfboards, over beans as big as basketballs,

Down, down, to meet my new horizon which shimmers with a hope

That I may return to a coop of my own.

 

Down I climb to claim this liberty, but – curses – that ogre is after me;

Bigger than me, bolder, brasher, brawnier, broiling with anger and betrayal and

Bloodlust!

 

“Get back ‘ere!” the ogre screams.

 

Frightened, frantic, faster and faster down the beanstalk I scarper,

While above me the ogre booms down oaths of murderous revenge:

The rain is his sweat, the wind is his breath, thunderbolts his words,

Flies and mosquitoes his crumbs of bread…

Broken from the bones of Englishmen like Jack.

 

Down, down, about to touch the ground, and there at the foot of the beanstalk stands

Jack’s mother – her each axe-chop a strike for Jack (oh, eternal be his memory) …

Chop… chop… chop… and at last the beanstalk topples, and with it the ogre

Who breaks his neck as easily as once he broke his bread.

 

Jack’s mother, she scoops me up and cradles me with more love

Than I had ever thought possible could exist; and for this, tomorrow,

After resting, and mending my wings and bruised beak,

I will lay for her a golden egg, as she puts on black robes for the eternal memory

Of her son, brave Jack, who set me free from a castle in the sky.